There is a young woman that has been in and out of our meetings with the church. She will come and participate for several weeks, and then we won’t see her for months at a time. She is single, works a job in the center, and formed a relationship with one of our more mature Christian women some time ago. She has never committed to following Christ, but everyone in our church knows her. During my time home on furlough, I received an email from the Christian that has the strongest tie to this young woman, Paty. This young woman started showing up to the women’s meetings, pregnant out of wedlock. She was so very ashamed. But our beautiful group of Christian sisters hosted a baby shower for her, and Paty was writing me to ask if I could pick up donated items for the baby from the states. I brought this need before the Shiloh women, and I express with such thankfulness that such generous Christians support us and the petitions we bring before them. I didn’t have room in my suitcase for many baby items, but these women provided cash so that we could buy things she needs here.
I had the privilege of going to visit this young woman this past Wednesday with Bethany (my new teammate) and Etelvina (one of our dear Christian sisters that lives close to this young mother’s new home). Her little boy is absolutely precious, and the mother looked well, but the situation and the tears that she poured out before us that day were heart-wrenching. I can empathize with a new mother. I remember giving birth to our Anastasia. Not only was the whole birth experience scary, but going home with that little bundle and learning so many new things about babies was scary. I had family come to help, I had friends bring me food, I had a husband that shared the burden of night shifts and caring for the baby. And I was exhausted. I was so exhausted that I was on the verge of tears many days. I share all of that with you to say that it came as no surprise to me that this young mother was in tears when we began our conversation. But what I cannot empathize with is her situation.
The father of the baby is not present. Her family has kicked her out of their house because of the shame. The baby is less than 2 months old, and this mother is having to continue her job to make ends meet (how is that for a 6 week maternity leave). We were able to count some of her blessings that day: she is in a “house” (it is one room with a little area outside to cook over a fire) and she only has to pay utilities; she is able to continue to work her job from the home; the baby is healthy. But can you imagine!? She was so appreciative of our visit. We are going to go visit her every Wednesday, and we are going to read through the book of Mark with her (something she says she has never done). When I shared with her that Christians from home sent a collection for her baby boy, she burst into tears. She is so humble and grateful. Etelvina, Bethany, and I laid our hands on her and prayed. We prayed for strength. We prayed that this young mother could experience the reality of family in God. We prayed to have the eyes of Christ that do not look at others in shame but who see someone as completely unique and special in the purposes God has for them.
This is the pastoral gospel. We share the message of Jesus not to save people from hell. We share the message of Jesus because the kingdom is here and now. He says to repent and change. With transformation comes heaven on earth, and we experience this heaven with others that have confessed his name, his body, the church. We, the church, are his hands and his feet. We are his voice to the ashamed. We are the light in the darkness. We are the family to the fatherless. Because we are Christ on earth. His kingdom come, his will be done, on EARTH as it is in heaven. Please keep the young mother, Sandra, in your prayers and keep your eyes open to ways that you are the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus.